15 Largest Cruise Ships Pollute More Than all the Cars in the World

According to a petition being circulated on the activist site Care2.com, the world’s ocean liners and cruise ships contribute massively to pollution of not only our air but also our seas.

The petition, “Tell Cruise Ships to Stop Spewing Filth Into Our Pristine Oceans!*” asserts that “the 15 largest cruise ships produce as much air pollution as the world’s 760 million cars” and that they “also generate tremendous waste”:

“In one day alone, a cruise ship generates 21,000 gallons of sewage, which is often dumped untreated once the ship is three miles from shore, as well as one ton of garbage, 170,000 gallons of wastewater, 6,400 gallons of oily bilge water, and 25 pounds of batteries, fluorescent lights, medical wastes, and expired chemicals.”

According to the same source:

“A single ocean trip… emits the same amount of pollutants as five million cars on the same route.”

Unfortunately, the oceans haven’t been “pristine” in a long time, as they are cluttered with trash, including vast, continent-sized islands of garbage called “gyres,” doubtlessly contributed to by the cruise ships and ocean liners, as well as the enormous cargo ships and fishing trawlers.

A video from a NASA satellite appears to show huge “pollution trails” and “smoke plumes” from ships and freighters in the Pacific Ocean, about which the video poster contends:

“The trails are from 20 to 100 miles wide. The pollution from ships lingers over the Pacific every day, though it is usually invisible on satellite photos.

“This day though, a massive pollution event rivaling that of a nuclear war is plain to see. Without environmental controls on what is burned on vessels on international waters, be it toxic waste or garbage, the polluted sky all comes to shore eventually.

“The pollution trails shown here are swept inland at Oregon and, as always, they make their way across the United States, to the biggest cities and the most remote wilderness.”

Climatologist Dr. Cliff Mass discusses these “ship trails” as particles from the internal combustion engines that “modify” the clouds by increasing cloud “droplets.” Concerning this phenomenon, Dr. Mass concludes:

“So ironically, the gunk coming out of ship smokestacks makes the clouds whiter!”

Cruise defenders claim that the ships are complying with laws not to pollute the air and water. However, the cruise ship industry was recently awarded the “Dinosaur of the Year” anti-environmental award by the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), the apparent source of the Care2 petition:

“NABU President Olaf Tschimpke claims cruise ships emit particle pollution equivalent to 5 million cars driving the same distance as the cruise ship travels. NABU notes in particular that there is money for every sort of convenience and luxury for guests on board, but no investment has been made in switching cruise ships from heavy fuel oil or outfitting the ships with particle filters, to reduce the pollution emission rates. Also according to NABU, “the 15 largest cruise ships emit as much sulfur dioxide pollution annually as all 760 million cars in the world…”

*The petition, luckily, reach its 100,000 signatures goal. Let’s see what happens next.

References: Examiner and NABU article in German;